Skip to main content

Simple Tips To Make Your Social Media Copy Sing

by Tommy Lee - October, 2019

Does anyone care about copy in social media? Isn’t it all about pictures, videos and GIFs? Well as Media Bounty’s copywriter I feel the need to tell you, it is not. The most-liked branded tweet of all time is all words – just three of them. Carter and his Wendy’s nuggs was all down to words – even the image retweeted 3.5 million times was just a screenshot of a direct message.

There’s no VSCO for words, and you can’t just put Dubai or Sao Paulo on top to make things prettier. But, there are a few filters you can use to make what you’re typing more readable. Here they are in a pioneering listicle format:

Filter 1 – Orwell

He was arguably better at writing than I am, so here are six rules to write by from the man himself.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These are from an essay called ‘Politics and the English Language’ if you’re interested.

We might have cut ‘always’ from no. 3, but that’s just us. Anyway. Number 6 is where we turn our attention next.

Filter 2 – Rebel

Throw the rule book in the recycling bin. Figures of speech beat grammatical accuracy. As long as the people reading know what you’re going on about, that’s fine. And there’s nothing wrong with starting a sentence with ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘because’. It’s the way we speak, so it should be the way we type.

Filter 3 – Read

If in doubt, read it out. At least under your breath. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d say in real life, if it’s jarring to read, or is a bit of a tongue twister, swap it out.

Filter 4 – Brief

Keep things short. 

Filter 5 – Simplicity

Don’t try and be too smart. Like we were in Filter 4.  All your colleagues might love your banter, but is anyone else going to get what you’re going on about? As Steven Pressfield said: “No one wants to read your sh*t”. Keep it simple and don’t be a Clever Dick. People will think about what they’ve read for a nanosecond (source: me). They won’t bother trying to decode an Instagram caption from a yoghurt. Get your point out there.

And there you have it. They’re only words. But as the Bee Gees sang: “they’re just about all I have”.